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Government upgrades RHI scheme

Long awaited changes to the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme - which is a world-first for the UK - have now come into force, offering businesses and local authorities a broader range of options for meeting heating requirements in a sustainable way.

The non-domestic RHI scheme works by paying companies for every unit of heat produced using renewable technologies that meet the scheme’s criteria. Key changes introduced in May include:

  • Increased support for large biomass projects, deep geothermal heating, ground source heat pumps and solar heating; and
  • New support for air source heat pumps, biomass combined heat and power, on-site combustion of biogas from anaerobic digestion at all scales and waste-based heating projects using commercial and industrial waste as well as municipal solid waste.

The Renewable Energy Association has welcomed the changes, particularly because they extend the benefits of renewable heating technologies not only to businesses but also to housing associations and local authorities which now have the option to use biomass, geothermal and energy from waste to feed district heating schemes.

The solar Trade Association, which has been working with government on the solar aspects of the scheme, has welcomed the extra support for this types of renewable heating, saying the economics will now stack up for more projects. “More swimming pools, sports centres, food factories and hospitals will now be able to afford year-round heating from the sun,” said Stuart Elmes, chair of the STA’s Solar Thermal Working Group which provided evidence to the government in support of the ‘value for money cap’, enabling support for solar water heating to increase to 10p/kWh.

Also welcoming the revised cost control mechanisms in the upgraded scheme, the Wood Heat Association chairman Julian Morgan-Jones commented that wood heat could now “maximise its contribution to cost-effective emissions savings and renewable energy targets”.

Tell us what you think about the long awaited changes to the government's Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) by emailing,

The Watts Bulletin is the technical companion to the Watts Pocket Handbook, the essential guide to property and construction, as used by professionals since 1983.

Watts Bulletin editor: Trevor Rushton.